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Indomitable Pluck

Indomitable Pluck
For those interested in railroad lore, Wisconsin history, or just an interesting read, there is a gem that just recently hit the shelves written by Karen Parker, the publisher of the weekly newspaper, The County Line in Ontario, Wis. At 112-pages, ?Indomitable Pluck? is a painstakingly researched history of the Chicago and North Western railroad?s 32 - mile line built in the 1870s between Elroy and Sparta and is subtitled, ?One Railroad, Three Tunnels and America?s First Rails ? To - Trails Bike Path. The title Indomitable Pluck is itself plucked from the pages of the Sparta Herald from 1871. It was used to describe a quality possessed by the people of the city in an editorial campaign launched by the paper to lure the railroad to Sparta. But during her research, Parker found the term to be just as representative of the railroad builders who would find it necessary to traverse some of the most imposing terrain of Wisconsin?s Driftless region Forging westward, the railroad would create a boon for some communities, while bypassing others that would see their chance for prosperity fade with the distant whistles of the locomotives. The book resurrects the memories, long lost to obscurity, of the principals involved in building the railroad, such as Alexander McDonell, who had built a water tunnel under Lake Erie for the city of Cleveland before taking on the daunting task of excavating Tunnel no. 3, the longest of the Elroy-Sparta stretch?s three tunnels. Parker devotes a chapter to the construction of Tunnel no. 3, which was fraught with challenges for the engineers and peril for the laborers.But the rails eventually came to life and brought prosperity to communities along their path. From hundreds of documents, newspaper articles, books, and the archives of the Chicago and North Western Historical Society Parker knits together a fascinating tale of the immigrant laborers and common men who constructed and then worked on this unique stretch of line. In the mid-1960s the line was abandoned and a debate ensued about the future of the old railroad bed. In the end, it was the vision of a few people that helped transform it into the Elroy-Sparta State Bicycle Trail, the nation?s first rails-to-trails bike path. Softcover with many B&W photos

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